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Invoking Feariatry

This is a preliminary essay intended to invoke further interest in what Fisher & Subba (2016) have called feariatry; we defined it (a term first named by Subba (2014)): feariatry (feariatric) - refers to the study and application of fear-disease relations in the mental health and wellness fields; analogous to psychiatry and psychiatric [1]

"Feariatry" is one of the sub-branches of a triad under FEAROLOGY, the latter which is one of the triad ("three pillars") identified in Fisher & Subba (2016) as an Integral Model of Relationships that are important to health and wellness, liberation and a better way to understand fear and create new knowledge about fear (p. 141).  Feariatry has the least development conceptually (theoretically) and practically relative to the other triads. For previous writing on feariatry search this blog [2].  

What is Feariatry? 

This is an open question that has not near been answered in the short-life span (a couple of years) of its growth as a concept. I won't summarize here everything Subba has published on it nor myself. I merely want to share some of my latest thinking. Feariatry is a re-calibration of the nature and role of fear (utilizing a philosophy of fearism) within its applications to health and wellness, medicine, psychiatry, therapy and psychology. The impetus behind this concept (and field of inquiry and care service) has been that fear requires a 'new' revision from its place in these areas, especially the field of psychiatry. Subba and myself argue that most all mental health problems and/or disorders (e.g., phobias, and other disorders in the DSM-V Manual that psychiatrists and psychologists use) are basically at their roots different forms of "fear-disease" relations.

In other words, the ecology of fear has been messed up, made errors as a "defense system" or "motivation system" and the result of those errors (intrinsic and extrinsic) are psychopathologies of fear (often with physical pathologies). Fear is at their root cause, and therefore, fear management/education is their primary or at least important treatment. Psychiatry as it has developed in modern times, and its following under the Biomedical Paradigm (Model), has left us with a psychiatry that is not that attuned or well-informed to the way fear operates in psychopathologies in general and in particular psychopatholgies like phobias, etc. Obviously, psychiatry sees the powerful nature and role of fear in psychopathologies like neurosis, psychosis, phobias, panic, anxiety disorder, but in actual theory and operations of treatment psychiatry doesn't pay that much attention to how to best work with the ecology of fear as a whole system of dynamic interactions, both intrinsic and extrinsic, both individually and collectively, and objectively and subjectively--all operating as impacting on the way fear is shaping and controlling life process (including nearly all psychopathologies). 

Feariatry ought to include the best of what psychiatry has to offer, but it also ought not be caught following only, or being dominated by, psychiatry and the Biomedical Paradigm. Feariatry, like the philosophy of fearism, is something new in perspective--one that uses a "fearist perspective" or lens. There is to be an open-mindedness, creativity and imagination for fear like never before in history. In that sense, feariatry ought to be transdisciplinary in approach to gathering data, knowledge, and assessing outcomes of feariatric treatments on patients. Psychiatry and its domination of the definition of fear and ways of managing fear are seen now as too restrictive and dismissive of the findings of the philosophy of fearism. We want this relationship to change, and we want more dialogue between theorists and practitioners from psychiatry and feariatry. Well, fact is, we don't have any one practitioner at the moment who claims to be a feariatrist. There isn't yet training for them. Meaning, we don't have a curriculum and pedagogy already prepared and planned for such training of feariatrists. But it is slowly developing and I am personally very interested to help lead this work and teaching. 

What is the Biomedical Paradigm?

This is a long and complex topic. When I suggest (as have several other critics) that the field of Medicine (and Psychiatry) are deeply embedded in the assumptions, premises and culture of a paradigm of Science as supreme over other forms of knowing, knowledge, and paradigms--then, that's where there is a conflict that needs to be understood, with a history going way back. Anthropologists tell us that around the world there have been "medicines" and "medicine peoples" in all tribal cultures for most of human history. Indigenous medicine (as therapy) is ancient and has its own Indigenous science basis, which many Indigenous scholars are now reclaiming and documenting in writing. Most of that wisdom is oral tradition, passed on from masters to initiates. There has also in the last several decades been a challenge to Western Medicine by the Eastern approach to Medicine (or wellness and health). Again, this is a large topic, but the point is to say that the worldviews behind these different approaches have different value systems, beliefs, assumptions about reality, and about the way disease and cures are related. These different worldviews and their paradigms of operations are also different in how they view the nature of fear and how best to manage fear. They have different ways of theorizing the fear-diseases (i.e., what diseases or dis-eases are caused mainly by fear and which are not). 

The biomedical paradigm, at least in the Western world began in the early first millenium and especially in the 16th century, as "Science" was becoming thought by many (not all) to be the best method to find out the truth, to diagnose the true illness and find the true cure. Experimentation was systematized using new means of statistics, data analysis, validating procedures, etc. The history of diseases and cures is fascinating and gives one a larger perspective when practicing any kind of curing --therapy--etc. So, I encourage all psychiatrists and feariatrists to be philosophers and historians as well as practitioners. Keep an open mind, and especially with regard to the nature and role of fear in disease(s) and in health and cures. 

So, may feariatry move along and develop, and do so in part because of its open-dialogue with psychiatry. As for how hard that is going to be, I predict it will be very hard because psychiatry isn't very open in my experience to other paradigms for understanding medicine, wellness, health, therapy. Of course, I could be just as critical about Psychology today, especially in the Western world. 

I look forward to further dialogue. 

Notes: 

1. Fisher, R. M., & Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris, p. 157. See also Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris.

2. For e.g., I have written: "Advances in the Psychopathology of Fear" (FM blog Apr. 19/17); "Feariatry: A First Conceptual Map" (FM blog Aug. 26/16). 

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